What is NaNoWriMo?

November is National Novel Writing Month. Could you write a novel in a month?

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There’s not a lot going on in November. The weather’s awful, Halloween’s over, and it’s that weird limbo where it’s not quite late enough to start thinking seriously about Christmas. But if you’re someone who’s ever considered writing a novel, then November is the golden time of National Novel Writing Month, usually known as NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo is an internet-based writing event that started in 1999, and has grown bigger and bigger with each year. The goal is pretty simple: participants attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel between November 1 and November 30. The official NaNoWriMo website has a word counter and stats where you can track your progress and keep yourself on target during the month, and there’s an option where you can receive weekly pep talks from famous authors, designed to motivate you and keep you writing.

And with NaNoWriMo, it’s the quantity more than the quality that matters. It may sound counter-intuitive to just write, no matter what kind of words you’re churning out and knowing there’s a strong likelihood a lot of the content you produce during November will be end up lost to the backspace button.

But as Jodi Picoult said, “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”

With NaNoWriMo, you will produce something. It might not be great, but it’s something you can work with. For some writers, the no-holds-barred, throw-care-to-the-wind, do-or-die seat-of-the-pants approach is exactly what they need to get a workable first draft down. You can’t stop and agonise over getting every word right because there’s no time for that. And often you end up surprising yourself with what can happen when you just sit down at a computer and spill out all the words inside yourself.

Alice Olivia Scarlett is a freelance editor. She lives in Thanet with the seagulls and parakeets.

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